What is Myopia?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common problem that makes it difficult to see things clearly from both far away or across the room. This condition is caused by a slightly elongated eyeball, which makes the light focuses in front of the retina and not on it. Myopia is a condition that affects a great amount of people around the world and the numbers of people affected by Myopia has grown at a very fast pace. Today, up to 90% of the teenagers and young adults of the Chinese population are affected by Myopia, sixty years ago, it was only 10% – 20% of the population (1). Additionally, up to 90% of young adults in other Asian countries are also affected by Myopia, including Taiwan, Japan and Singapore (2).
Treatments for Myopia
Traditionally, Myopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. However, as the technology evolves and medical advances, Myopia can now also be corrected by laser surgery. This gives people one more option when it comes to correcting Myopia, especially for people who are uncomfortable with contact lenses or wearing glasses. People with contact lens intolerance can also benefit from this surgery as it will allow them to be free from contact lens and glasses.
What is Refractive Surgery?
Refractive surgery is a surgical procedure used to correct or improve vision by changing the eyes’ refractive properties. The most common refractive surgery is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), where a laser is used to reshape the cornea, this will allow images that were focused in front of the cornea to be pushed closer or directly onto the retina, reducing or completely eliminates the dependence on contact lenses or glasses. Other refractive surgeries include Epi-Lasik Surgery, implanting a lens inside the eyes (3), Laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK) and Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) (4) and a few others.
Related (Is LASIK Safe?)
Should You Receive a Refractive Surgery?
If you are affected by Myopia and would like to be free from contact lenses and glasses, getting a refractive surgery could be a great option that is worth considering as it can significantly reduce or eliminates your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.
However, just like most surgeries, the surgery comes with certain risks and if you are already considering refractive surgery, it is important that you discuss with your ophthalmologist. There are a couple factors might play a role in your refractive surgery success, such as your life style, vision and other eye diseases. Note that refractive surgery is not for everyone, take LASIK for example, the result will depend on how your cornea responds to the surgery and how your eyes heal. Although, LASIK surgery usually has a high success rate. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery published findings in 2008 that showed that more than 95% of the 16 million people who received LASIK surgery were happy with the result and their new vision.
Other factors that should be taken into consideration include the amount of tears that your eyes produce and the quality of your tears, a history of dry eyes might indicate the likelihood of dry eyes after the LASIK surgery.
And if you are under 18 years old, it is recommended that you wait until you are at least 18, as the visions for people under 18 years old are still changing (5). Pregnancy and nursing can also change the measured refraction of the eyes, which makes you a less suitable candidate for refractive surgeries in general.
Another important thing to consider is that there is still a chance that you might still need to wear contact lenses or glasses after the procedure in order to achieve your best vision.
To summarize, Myopia surgery could be an excellent choice for you if you:
- Have otherwise healthy eyes and good healthy in general
- Have realistic expectations
- Over the age of 18, at the very least
- Are not pregnant nor nursing
- Do not have the tendency to have dry eyes
Remember, always consult with your eye doctor and discuss your life style and eyes health before you make any decision.
- The myopia boom. Nature.com 18 March 2015 – http://www.nature.com/news/the-myopia-boom-1.17120
- Why Up to 90% of Asian Schoolchildren Are Nearsighted. Time.com. 07 May 2012 –http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/07/why-up-to-90-of-asian-schoolchildren-are-nearsighted/
- What is refractive surgery? American Academry of Ophthalmology. 12 Dec 2015 http://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/what-is-refractive-surgery
- Refractive Surgery and Corneal Modification Definitions. American Optometric Association http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/corneal-modifications/refractive-surgery-and-corneal-modification-definitions?sso=y
- The Basics of LASIK Eye Surgery http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0062-basics-lasik-eye-surgery